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Predicting political leanings from taste in music

We think about transaction-generated data (TGD) a lot. The essence is that data generated as a by-product of some activity (and which is therefore highly accurate) can tell us more about behavior (even future behavior) than all the questionnaires in the world. Behavior associated with music, closely tied to emotion,seems like an even better candidate than reading.

During the next federal election cycle, for instance, Pandora users tuning into country music acts, stand-up comedians or Christian bands might hear or see ads for Republican candidates for Congress. Others listening to hip-hop tunes, or to classical acts like the Berlin Philharmonic, might hear ads for Democrats.

Because Pandora users provide their ZIP codes when they register, Mr. Bieschke says, “we can play ads only for the specific districts political campaigns want to target,” and “we can use their music to predict users’ political affiliations.” But he cautioned that the predictions about users’ political parties are machine-generated forecasts for groups of listeners with certain similar characteristics and may not be correct for any particular listener.

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